Garden Journal - August 9th 2007

Wildchicken Garden Journal - Miranda Hodgson


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9th August 2007 - Sowing late vegetables after a very wet summer

I know that the English are accused of talking about the weather a lot, but I think this year we can be forgiven. We had summer in April, rain for May and then floods in June and July and now it seems that autumn is arriving early. Holly berries are already turning red and apples and plums that would usually be ready in September are already nearly ripe.

"We had summer in April, rain for May and then floods in June and July..."

In the greenhouse, the lack of light has held back the chillies and tomatoes but those are now starting to pick up and take on some colour. Itís lucky that I didnít put any tomatoes outside in pots this year, as I have done previously, or we could well have lost them to blight. So many people have lost their tomatoes and potatoes to blight this year and, as far as I know, all the tomatoes were being grown outside.



Tigerella tomatoes ripening

Tigerella tomatoes ripening


The French bush beans I grew in the greenhouse have done far better than those outside in containers and Iím guessing that it was the warmer and drier environment they wanted. The outside plants have been moved under glass and have grown considerably since then so we should get some more from those plants. The windows are kept open so the pollinators can get in.


On the other hand, since the sun has come out again, the climbing French beans, Blue Lake, are doing really well. There are seven plants in a large pot and we've been eating a couple of portions a week.


Blue Lake beans

Beans - food of the gods


Moving the bush beans into the greenhouse, combined with the soaking non-summer, gave me the impetus to start off a whole new lot of vegetable seeds. Itís probably a couple of weeks late going by the dates that some of the seeds are meant to be sown, but I thought, what the hell, this summer has been a washout so far, but if the rest of the season and then the autumn is good then letís see what we can get out of it. As no one has bought the house yet, and it looks like we might be here a bit longer, I thought I may as well carry on as normal and just plant things.


If everything comes up, not all of it can go into the greenhouse, so we made a few changes outside. When we first arrived here I had planted some low-growing bamboo next to the greenhouse, thinking it would look attractive and keep the south side greenhouse wall cool. Didnít read the label properly, maybe, but it wasnít low growing at all Ė it got up to nearly six foot in places - and cast far too much shade. It was also too vigorous and needed cutting back with an annoying regularity for a plant that Iíd decided I wasnít that keen on.



The bamboo - wrong place for it, but I actually liked it to start with.


So, while I went swanning off to Goltho House gardens to meet a friend last week, to spend the day talking plants, Karl got the tools out and dug the whole lot up. The root mass was huge and he ended up needing to break it up with a mattock before they could be levered out with fork and spade. Even broken down, they were surprisingly heavy and it took two of us to dispose of it easily. It looks a whole lot better without it there and the greenhouse is much lighter.


The removal of the bamboo, which was taking up a surprising amount of space, gave us the room to reinstate one of the small square raised beds that I took up from the front garden a couple of years ago when I turned that area back into an ornamental bed. Weíd kept the wood and it was still dry and firm, so the bed just needed putting back together again - now it is sitting next to the greenhouse, looking rather bare and waiting for something to be planted in it. I couldnít stand the sight of it like that and put in some chives and Greek oregano from elsewhere to and give it a bit of colour until other stuff comes on.


New raised bed

The new raised bed - small but room for a few meals' worth


I made up a list of things that can be started from mid-July to early September (more here). From this list Iíve started carrots, chard, coriander, French beans, kale, an Oriental stir-fry leaf mix, peas, radishes, salad leaves, spinach, spring cabbage and spring onions. It may be too late to get anything from the kale this year, but the situation theyíre going in is about the warmest and most sheltered in the garden, and it gets good light, so we might get some baby leaves off it before the end of the year.


As of today, carrots, coriander, French beans, chard, kale, peas, the stir-fry leaves and spring cabbage have come up, but the others are still to show.


Although that spot is sheltered, we shall keep an eye on the night time temperatures once we get in to autumn. It will be easy to pop outside and drape some fleece over everything if a frost is forecast. Until then, the main thing weíll have to watch out for is pigeons and the smelly cats, who have already used the new soil for a toilet. Iím loath to net in case birds get trapped but I may resort to Pyracantha and Berberis prunings if the cats continue to visit.


Actually, where that vegetable bed is sited is a comfy spot for sitting out, but there you go. In any case, the mosquito population has exploded this summer so maybe itís just as well.

© Copyright Miranda Hodgson 2007


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